August 10, 1962 [The Head That Wouldn't Die]

Boiling hot today--everything clinging wet from humidity, my face shining, greasy, my feet in their shoes thick as Play-Doh, everything clammy and salty. Perfect weather for The Head That Wouldn't Die.

A woman is decapitated in a car accident, and her scientist husband bundles up her head in his jacket and puts it in a shallow pan filled with some liquid and sticks tubes into it. So there it/she sits, bandaged and bound, voice raspy, asking to be allowed to die more times than I wanted to hear. And the end of the movie was as sloppy as the August air outside, as the mad doctor's previous experiment--a misshapen creature with a google-eye and pointed head, the face wrinkled like milk-soaked gauze--tears off the lab assistant's arm, with all kinds of attendant wetness and black smears. Before this, the doctor, in his search for a suitable replacement body for his wife's miserable head, visits a burly-q joint and cruises around town, the camera forcing on us closeups of his face as he ogles the strippers and B-girls.

This is the kind of movie that won't go away, like the hot day that followed me into the theater, the air-conditioning making my wet shirt slick and icy, as though the bogeymen of childhood were nothing now but nauseating dregs, all the gooey business of life literally cut off and turned inside-out.


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